One of the great things about following this fantastic sport is the ability to lost in brilliant fights. Fights that maybe you weren't aware, or hadn't seen before. Those fights were the entire reason for this weekly series and it's why we're back again today for what was a very under-rated and often forgotten classic from 2004. It features one of the top Flyweights of the 21st century and a man he described as the strongest fighter he ever faced. Together they gave us something really exciting and action packed.
Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (49-2, 26) vs Trash Nakanuma (23-4, 10)
We suspect that Pongsaklek Wonjongkam needs little introduction. The Thai southpaw dominated the Flyweight scene for around a decade, had two lengthy reigns as the WBC Flyweight champion and scored a host of impressive wins. During his impressive career he scored wins against a genuine who's who including Malcolm Tunacao, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Daisuke Naito, Hidenobu Honda, Koki Kameda, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai and Edgar Sosa. Early in his career he was a very solid hitting boxer-puncher but as time went on his power started to dissipate somewhat and unlike many fighters he relied more on his skills, experience and boxing ability. Right through his career however he was always strong, talented and a very good fighter who could box, brawl and punch.
Whilst many will be aware of who Wonjongkam was, and even his biggest wins, they may not be aware of Japan's Trash Nakanuma. The 28 year old was a teak tough, exciting war monger of a fighter. His two bouts with Takefumi Sakata were absolute wars and coming in to this bout he had been a former Japanese Flyweight champion. Coming in to this he had entered back to back losses, but both defeat had been close and he proven himself as a genuine handful. Technically there was limitations with his boxing, but he was a physically imposing fighter who was strong, tough, aggressive, and could box well enough to make his physical traits work well in his favour. Despite his limitations he certainly wasn't "trash", as some might suggest, but he was a damn good fringe contender from time period, and would have been a nightmare for anyone at the time.
From the off it seemed like Wonjongkam was going to have an easy defense. He was forcing Nakanuma back from the off and looked sharper, quicker and much better than the challenger. If anything Nakanuma looked really timid and almost as if the occasion had got to him and frozen him. Nakanuma began to show flashes of aggression in round 2, but was still looking like he was fighting well within himself and not letting his hands go anywhere near enough.
Thankfully as the bout went on and Nakanuma realised he could take the power of Wonjongkam, and then the touch paper was lit as the two began to fight on the inside throwing some bombs in round 3 as the action began to go through the gears. From here on we were getting something really great to watch. Nakanuma regularly applying pressure, Wonjongkam responding with volume and Nakanuma looking to counter.
Round after round the bout got more intense. It was never an all out war, but it wasn't far off and was hotly contested, exciting, with great back and forth. Nakanuma showed off how tough he was by regularly forcing Wonjongkam backwards and his will to win was growing by the round, but his lack of polish was clear with some of his shots missing by some distance. That hard mattered as counters form Wonjongkam just bounced off the challenger.
Whilst won't be remembered as one of the all time great bouts, it is a hidden gem and well and truly worthy of a watch. A very, very exciting bout that gets better and better as it goes on and a genuine closet classic.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features